An Internet search on "stolen car junkyard" will yield dozens of articles on busted theft rings and found stolen vehicles from around the world. Some notable junkyard finds include perfectly fine automobiles that were simply hooked up to tow trucks from their parking spots and towed away by crooks looking to make fast cash at scrap yards. From Philadelphia to Cleveland to Albuquerque, rings of tow truck drivers "shop" for cars, tow them away at will, and sell them to junkyards. How many of these cars end up actually getting scrapped versus being resold whole or for parts probably depends on how on the "up-and-up" the salvage yard buyers are. Sellers usually need proof of ownership to sell to junk yards, and a car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) can provide history through a simple search -- if the proprietors are looking to verify.
In 2010, another type of junkyard-related theft made news internationally, as a bomb plot centered in New York's Times Square was foiled. The vehicle linked to the attempted bombing had a license plate that had been lifted from a truck in a Connecticut junkyard. The license plate helped detectives narrow the timeline and close in on the suspects. Abandoning getaway cars in junkyards is one way to try and hide evidence, but the New York bomb plotters took from the junkyard in an effort to falsify the vehicle and make it appear legit if its plates had been run through a police check [source: Croghan and Gaskell].